Ultra Marathons vs. Marathons
Prior to moving to Virginia, all I really ran were shorter distances and focused on speed, but that changed when I found a new running partner.
I just completed my first 50k and now I am officially an ultra-marathoner. Over the years, I tossed around the idea of running an ultra and last year I signed up for two, but did not start either due to a couple of injuries.
The North Face Endurance Challenge 50k was a definitely an eye opener. I kept asking myself, “What took so long,” only wishing I had started this journey sooner. Sure, I had done some hiking before, but never with a goal time and so many friends. Plus, setting a goal and beating it was a great feeling, too. I was unsure if cramps would take me out or not, or if I could actually go the distance. Bottom line, the ultra marathon experience was amazing, and I look forward to many more in the near future. However, the experience was very different than any marathon I have conquered.
I love the distance of the marathon and all of the support that’s provided by the crowds along the course. Most courses, at least the ones I have run, are typically paved. I also find that training for a marathon can be relatively easy compared to an ultra. I typically carry a handheld water bottle and run five-mile loops, this allows me to snack and refill at the same point when necessary.
My thoughts on both…
|Aid Stations (official)||In intervals w/water||Sporadic|
|Nutrition||Gels & Salt capsules||Small buffet|
|Carry water||Maybe, use handheld||Yes, hydration pack|
|Crowd Support||Any point on the course||Aid station & Exchange points|
|Course||Typically paved||Any path accessible|
|Pace||Generally fastest sustainable pace||Walk breaks are essential|
|Distance||26.2||Anything beyond 26.2|
|Runners||Generally keep to themselves||Chatty and supportive|
|Finish line||Both are great accomplishments & there’s always a line at the beer tent!|
I am a fan of both types of races. I will keep doing the marathon, so I can keep chipping away at my PR. Ultras provide an opportunity to challenge me both physically and mentally.